Historical notes on the Catholic Church in
Jan de Witte, first Bishop of Cuba, wrote a scathing
letter to Emperor Charles V, accusing the crown of treating unjustly the colonies in the
The first schools opened in Havana were:
1568 : Jesuit Fathers
1574 : Franciscan Friars
1578: Dominican Friars
Bishop Jerónimo Valdès inagurated a Foundling House for
abandoned children. The Bishop gave his name to each abandoned child.
In 1754, Bishop Pedro Agustìn Morell of Santa Cruz interceded
and defended before King Philip V the miners of El Cobre, who were in revolt against the
Crown. His intervention succesfully averted represive measures against them.
At the end of the eighteenth century, the Church had founded, and
oversaw, practically all of the schools and hospitals then in operation in Cuba, with
practically no help from the authorities.
Anthony Mary de Claret, later canonized by the Church, was
Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba. He evangelized widely throughout the region and he started
an agrarian reform movement with land belonging to the Church.
In 1819, Franciscan Friar Josè de la Cruz Espì, better known as
Father Valencia, opened St. Lazarus Hospital for Lepers. He solicited money house to house
for five years in order to get enough funds to erect the building .
In 1825 he founded the first hospital for women.
He also directed the construction of the San Roque Hospice for
pilgrims, and welcomed any who needed shelter for the night.
He oversaw construction of the Tìnima River Bridge, still in
All his life he slept on a wooden board and a brick for a pillow.
In 1881 , Discalced Carmelites volunteer to be inoculated with
Yellow fever in order to help health authorities find a cure for the disease.
In 1959, the Latin American Episcopal Conference reported that
there were 62,000 studends in 212 catholic schools in Cuba.
and Joaquìn Estrada Montalván, (La Habana, 1968).